If I were to tell you that Gonzalo Higuain would have a chance to score a hat trick within 15 minutes of his first Juventus start, you probably would think I’m sitting here beating up little kids on FIFA 16. Nope, there were no video game bullying going on.
Instead, it was just Higuain bullying Sassuolo’s defense.
Higuain, Juventus’ €90 million man, looked every bit as good as the club-record transfer free made him out to be. His two goals within the game’s first 10 minutes — YES, TEN FREAKING MINUTES — were the driving force behind Juventus’ 3-1 win over Sassuolo on Saturday as the Italian champions continued to stay perfect to begin the season.
No post-international break letdown. None of that, really. There was no chance to do so simply because with Higuain firing on all cylinders in his first Juventus start. As good as he was off the bench in his first Juventus appearance against Fiorentina in the season opener, it was even better against Sassuolo. The first goal was a beautiful counterattack with a slick leading pass from Paulo Dybala out wide to his fellow Argentine and better finish into the back corner of the goal. His second goal was just a beautiful individual effort to score on the volley following Sami Khedira’s header across the penalty box.
Throw in a goal from another player getting his first Juventus start, Miralem Pjanic, before the half-hour mark and the rout was officially on. Not even a rare Sassuolo foray forward in the first half and even rarer error from Gigi Buffon could spoil all of that.
Nope, it was a day for the debutants to lead the way. And boy, they sure did.
When you put your hands on your teammate’s knees like Higuain has here, you’ve got to be destined for greatness, right?
There’s one thing for certain, though: The guy extending those hands on knees is already great. He’s got three goals in three games, and if his first start is any indication of what kind of shape he’s rounding into — I swear that’s not some kind of ‘Higuain is fat’ pun, so shut it — then Juventus’ ceiling and potential got even that much higher.
It sure is fun watching Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic score goals for Juventus rather than against them. Good job, Beppe, I like that they are both on our team now. That’s €122 million pretty well spent this summer.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Mario Lemina in the first half: 32 passes attempted, 32 passes completed. That’s pretty good, I’d say. He’s doing quite a good job stepping in for Claudio Marchisio to start the season, that’s for sure.
- I say that because as much as Allegri wanted us to think that it was going to be Pjanic playing in front of the defense when he did return from his August injury woes, the truth was that when Saturday’s game against Sassuolo began, it was Lemina playing in the center of the midfield. That’s why we saw Pjanic getting so far up the field so often. And hey, with the way he’s able to create things, that’s not the worst thing in the world.
- Since I talked about the other two central midfielders for Juve, it’s only fitting that Sami Khedira is the next mention.
- Alex Sandro’s defending hasn’t been all that great this season, but his crosses were sure quite dangerous as ever. Once he eliminates those errors on the defensive side of things, he’s going to be one of the best left backs the whole world has to offer.
- Juventus had one point through three games last season. Juventus has nine points through three games this season. I think you can tell that this squad is in a little different kind of shape compared to 12 months ago.
- This came could have seen Juventus score six. It also could have seen Sassuolo score a couple more goals as well. It proves that while this Juventus team created plenty and is just full of potential, there’s still plenty of things to clean up as we start to enter the first busy stretch of the season. Good thing it’s the second weekend of September.
- Why is Stephan Lichtsteiner still a crucial part of this team? Just watch his goal line clearance late in the game as the latest example. He’ll get his game time in Serie A this season — especially with Dani Alves being the only natural right back on the Champions League squad list.
- Dybala didn’t have a goal to his name on Saturday, but he did just about everything else to help Juventus storm past Sassuolo. He created chance after chance for his teammates. He probably should have gotten on the scoresheet based on the chances his did have himself, but that will happen. We know the kind of talent this young man has. Once the first goal comes, he’ll be able to settle in and take off like he did last season. But even without the goals, he’s contributing plenty — and that’s the most important thing.